This is barefoot country
even now, in early winter
when the cool mountain air dampens
the risk of a startled snake rising
in your path.
This is sitting-still country –
where the bracken unfurls its fronds
and where the layered view of the purple hills
makes you contemplate your place
in the natural order of things.
This is cracking bark country
where a distant haze of smoke drives
a shudder through the core of the old-growth trees –
that yearn and lean toward
the merest hint of flame.
This is vast night country,
a curving roof of blackness shot through with stars –
points of light reaching across time –
and you wonder at the significance
of a self-aggrandising world.
This is stony swamp country –
as springy as the moss on the southside of the trees –
as pitted and tender as the bruise you find
on the sole of your foot three days
after you return home.